The Associated Press reports that corn prices are at their highest levels in a decade and growers are looking at planting as much as 10 million more corn acres next year, according to Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist.
“It’s a wonderful time for corn producers. They’re extremely excited, but they’re also apprehensive because they’ve seen booms before and they don’t last,” he said.
The average price of a bushel of corn has increased about $1.00 since September and is now about $3.45.
Former National Corn Growers Association president Ryland Utlaut of Missouri is a producer who is definitely happy to see prices higher for a change.
“I started farming 40 years ago and corn prices were $2.00,” said Utlaut. “Last year, we were $2.00 again.”
Utlaut says the 1995 “Freedom to Farm” bill helped to encourage farmers to develop more markets for corn. “And we’ve done it in big fashion with ethanol,” he said. “We haven’t seen much change in livestock use or exports, the new dynamic is the ethanol industry.”
Utlaut, who is the chairman of Mid-Missouri Energy in Malta Bend, firmly believes that the corn industry can meet the demand for ethanol and still meet the needs of livestock producers and exporters, and biotech corn will help do the job. This year’s average corn yield is estimated at over 151 bushels per acre, up almost ten percent compared to the “unprecedented” average of 138 in 2001.
Listen to an interview with Ryland about how he thinks biotech varieties will help meet demand for corn.
Ryland Utlaut (4 min MP3)